Colleges with Free Tuition
More than a dozen colleges offer free tuition to all students. The colleges don't charge any tuition, but most do charge for room and board and there are other incidental expenses (e.g., books, supplies and equipment, transportation, health insurance, personal expenses), so loans are still required, just not as frequently or as much. Many of these colleges require all students to work. Several of these colleges are located in rural and remote areas.
These colleges include Alice Lloyd College (KY), Barclay College (KS), Berea College (KY), College of the Ozarks (MO), Cooper Union (NY), Curtis Institute of Music (PA), Deep Springs College (CA), Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (MA), Saint Louis Christian College (MO), Webb Institute (NY), William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY (NY) and Williamson College of the Trades (PA).
The University of the People is a free online college, but it is not yet accredited, the courses are mostly introductory and it may start charging admissions application fees.
Alice Lloyd College
College of the Ozarks
Curtis Institute of Music
Deep Springs College
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
Saint Louis Christian College
William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY
It is not unusual for new colleges, especially professional schools, to offer free tuition to the first year's class. In some cases this is designed to generate publicity for a new college. The surge of interest usually causes the college to be one of the most selective colleges in the country. In other cases the colleges offer free tuition because of the difficulty in obtaining financial aid at a new college. It takes roughly two years for a new college to get accredited and approved for participation in federal student aid programs. Examples of colleges that have offered free tuition to their first incoming class include Central Florida College of Medicine in 2008 and the University of California/Irvine School of Law (2009-10).
Other Low Cost Colleges
More than six dozen colleges have adopted generous no loans financial aid policies that substitute grants for loans in the financial aid packages of low-income students. Such no loans policies can significantly reduce college costs, effectively providing free tuition to students with exceptional financial need (e.g., zero EFC students).
Some colleges who are unable to afford to eliminate loans from the financial aid packages have instead opted to adopt level or guarantee tuition rates where the tuition or cost of attendance is locked in for four years.
Free College Courses
Several colleges have made their courses available online for free, but not for credit. These lectures can serve as study aids for students as well as enrichment material for people who aren't interested in a college degree.
These free online college courses include classes available from MIT's OpenCourseWare (which launched the open courseware movement), Carnegie Mellon University's Open Learning Initiative, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Tufts University, University of Notre Dame and Open Yale Courses, as well as more than 100 more free online courses listed at the Open Courseware Consortium. (Other free online educational materials can be found at the Open Educational Resources (OER) Commons.)
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